Brad Davison, Wisconsin's charge-drawing specialist, punctuated a wild Saturday in college basketball with a game-altering groin punch in a loss to rival Marquette.
Oh, college basketball, you've outdone yourself again.
Davison was the main character on a day that pit the sport against a slate of high-profile events: the Heisman Trophy ceremony, the Army-Navy football game, UFC 231 and the MLS Cup. It's a battle college basketball usually loses. After beginning with a breathtaking pace in November, the sport tends to slow down in December as teams prepare for the January transition to conference action.
But college basketball offered a few surprises Saturday, when No. 9 Kentucky lost to Seton Hall in overtime, Syracuse topped Georgetown on Tyus Battle's late jumper, Tulsa upset No. 16 Kansas State, Indiana snatched a win over Louisville in the final seconds, Michigan State's Kyle Ahrens sealed a win at Florida with a dunk, No. 2 Kansas survived in a three-point win against New Mexico State, and Marquette defeated a No. 12 Wisconsin squad in a rivalry game.
The fun will continue Sunday, when Gonzaga, the No. 1 team in America, will attempt to maintain its unblemished résumé in a matchup against No. 7 Tennessee (3 p.m. ET, ESPN), and Nevada will tussle with Grand Canyon (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU), both in Phoenix.
It all felt like the high-stakes action of February instead of the typical pre-holidays malaise.
Last month, Davison drew four offensive fouls -- and a nation's ire -- in a win over North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
"My dad always said the sign of a truly great player was someone who could truly make an impact without the ball in his hands," Davison told ESPN last week. "One thing I can always control is my toughness."
With 3:35 to play in overtime and his team down 65-63 to Marquette on Saturday, Davison gave Joey Hauser a left forearm shot to his nether regions, a maneuver Ric Flair would admire. When the official blew his whistle, Hauser thought the foul was on him. But the official had witnessed the sequence, so Davison received a flagrant foul 1 that gave Hauser a pair of free throws (he made both) and his team possession.
On a random Saturday in December, which is historically subdued throughout the sport, a villain was born, and Wooden Award candidate Markus Howard elevated his profile with a 27-point performance.
Kentucky probably lost its spot in the top 25 after a loss to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats don't resemble the powerful program we assumed they'd be entering the season. On Twitter, John Calipari said he was "down" about the loss for a Kentucky squad that has surrendered 80 points or more three times this season.
Last season, Kentucky didn't give up 80 points for the third time until Jan. 30. But Kentucky is not alone in its lackluster first chapter. A Kansas State team that reached the Elite Eight last season has back-to-back losses after Saturday's result against Tulsa. After the Michigan State game Saturday, Florida has four losses.
The day started for folks on the East Coast with No. 6 Nevada recovering from a 15-point deficit to beat No. 20 Arizona State. It concluded with No. 2 Kansas holding off New Mexico State in Kansas City.
College basketball emphasizes the long game. Saturday's results will factor into the final assessments of the teams chasing NCAA tournament berths but won't ruin any team's dreams. Beyond that, however, any channel-flipping fan had an opportunity to watch an entertaining collection of games. That's college basketball's gift: the volume, the quality and the uncertainty each weekend.
On Sunday, Gonzaga and Nevada are both favored to win.
As Marquette's Hauser knows after Saturday's win over Wisconsin, however, you never know when -- or where -- you might get punched in this game.